When I first began this series I really thought it was going to be about making my kids (and myself) learn to DO more. I had plans to share with you how we started a garden, how I was teaching Lydia to sew (or something like it), how my kids were going to do more chores than I’d ever done in my life and how we were going to buck the American dream of coasting through life.
As I began this journey I had no idea that God would work on the INNER parts of my heart instead of just the OUTER workings of my life. I may not be able to share online exactly what’s going on in there. It has to do with my parenting and my marriage. But right now I’m still working out the “wilder” part of it. Maybe when I figure out what’s going on I can share it with you to encourage and remind you what is possible when God gets involved in your life.
As I looked through my notes this week for the rest of this series, I honestly felt like I didn’t have much more to share. The things I wanted to say were suddenly not as important as what is going on in my heart. But, one passage in Farmer Boy stuck out to me as something I really think you’ll want to hear.
It was threshing time and Almanzo Wilder was helping his father spread wheat on the floor of the barn. Almanzo asks his father why he didn’t hire the threshing machine which could thresh a crop of grain in just a few days…
“That’s a lazy man’s way to thresh,” Father said. “Haste makes waste, but a lazy man’d rather get his work done fast than do it himself. That machine chews up the straw till it’s not fit to feed stock, and it scatters grain around and wastes it.
“All it saves is time, son. And what good is time, with nothing to do? You want to sit and twiddle your thumbs, all these stormy winter days?”
“No!” said Almanzo. He had enough of that on Sundays.
Then they begin to beat the grains of wheat out of their husks by hand. Then separate them. This took them all winter.
This one is tough. “What good is time, with nothing to do?” Wow. I can think of a lot of things I can do besides separate wheat by hand. How about reading? Playing online? Watching movies? Going to the mall? Taking a vacation? Sleeping? The goal of work is to have FREE TIME, right?
Not according to Mr. Wilder. He saw work as the reason to live. And isn’t that really what God tells us in the Bible? When God created Adam he gave Adam the garden to TAKE CARE OF. When Adam and Eve sinned the curse to Adam was that he would have to work “by the sweat of your brow”. And I think the curse here is not on Adam being forced to work but that Adam’s work would be cursed. Not how God intended fulfilling and fruitful work to be.
Not to mention the strict warnings against idleness in 2 Thessalonians 3. Or the praise of a woman who is never idle in Proverbs 31. As I sit in front of my computer and listen to my washing machine, look at my full-of-clean-dishes dish washer while my children play with talking, flashing games, I feel absolutely IDLE.
I don’t want the goal of my life to have NOTHING TO DO. I want to DO. I want to work hard at things like keeping my home clean, cooking good meals and making sure my kids play outside. But I also want to work hard at my marriage, my relationships and parenting. I don’t want to be idle at any level. Think about what it means to idle in your car—you’re not going anywhere. Just wasting gas.
So, what does this mean practically? How does this work in your life? In mine? Maybe you don’t sit down on the couch to watch TV as soon as the kids are in bed. Maybe you read a book or join a study that will help you be a better wife (even if you don’t really want to). Maybe you choose to close down Tweetdeck during the day so you can focus on your kids. In fact, these ARE the things I’ve had to do to keep my life from being idle.
And the sad part? I didn’t know I was idling. I thought I was moving on pretty good. I didn’t know I was putting off a hard thing. I was content to idle and twiddle my thumbs.
What about you? Do you want to sit and twiddle your thumbs all these stormy winter days?
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See the whole I WANT TO BE WILDER series: